Three Scenes


Scene 1 - Delaware Bay, Pennsylvania, October, 1682


"All hands, reduce sail!" called the first mate.

"Aye, sir, reduce sail!" the crew shouted back.

The sailing ship Welcome proceeded up the bay of the Delaware River. The captain had sailors watching from the bow to help the navigator through the shoals that could wreck a less wary ship. And after a six week voyage in which thirty-one people had already died, the captain was not about to lose his most important passenger.

"Well, Mr. Penn," he asked the stout man standing at the railing and looking towards shore, "What do you make of your new property?"

"It makes me humble," replied William Penn with a smile. "And I thank the beneficence of God and your good skills [the captain bowed his head slightly] for letting me see the home of our noble experiment."

"Huzza! Huzza, William Penn!" shouted a group of colonists on the shoreline. Penn waved his hat to them.

"They are truly glad to see you," the captain said. "I hear even the old Swede and Dutch settlers believe you will bring a new fairness to the land."

"And so I shall," said Penn. "They may be assured of liberty of conscience and their civil freedoms. All I ask is loyalty to the King, sobriety and a loving neighborhood."

"And the Indians?" asked the captain.

"The king has given me this land as debt payment for my father's devotion and service," said Penn. "But the land belonged first to the Indian. I will seek out their kings and negotiate a treaty for our people's land. There will be no use of force and no bloodshed here. We will live together in peace under the one true God."

"So you think their god is ours?" asked the captain.

"Can it be otherwise?" replied Penn. "As there is one earth, so there is one God, regardless of His name. I know the Indians to be religious and of strong convictions. As Christians, we must act according to our faith and in better manner towards them than our English cousins have to the north and south of us.

"I tell you, captain, Pennsylvania will be a garden where all people can live in peace. Even the lion and the lamb will lie down together," he said.

Then Penn turned back to the railing and raised his hat again to the people on shore.